May 17, 2013

The most important thing to remember when storing wine: “Don’t let it get hot," says wine expert Scott Atkinson. Atkinson, who is a wine consultant at Western Supermarket in Mountain Brook, Alabama, where he manages over 3,000 wines, says the last place your wine needs to be is in your kitchen. That's because temperatures tend to fluctuate when you cook, which isn't good for the wine. Appliances radiate heat, too -- the dishwasher releases hot steam, the fridge creates heat staying cold, and the coffee pot, it's just swimming in steam and heat. Think about your wine like you would a head of lettuce: It would wilt in this type of weather and so will your wine.

If you're storing wine for a short term, a couple of days or a few weeks, it should be fine on your kitchen counter. But if you’re thinking about holding onto it for a little while, you might want to consider putting it in a pantry or closet. That’s right, a closet. Not only are temperatures more even in a closet, they’re cooler, and they don't often get very much sunlight either. Sunlight,  Wine Spectator magazine says,  prematurely ages wine and dampens its flavor. Also, be sure to store the wine on its side. This helps the cork stay moist so it properly protects the precious liquid inside the bottle.

Once you've opened your wine, pop that bottle into the fridge, advises Atkinson. Red or white, it doesn't matter. Merlot, Pinot Noir, throw it all in. It’ll last longer at these lower temperatures than sitting at room temperature on your counter.

First, though, you’ll want to stick a cork back into it. Keep a few chic wine stoppers around, just in case you misplace the cork -- not that you would do that, no one ever does that. Or, splurge and get a vacuum seal for about $10. It’s not necessary, but it will help your wine last longer. Either way, your wine should be good for 4 or 5 days, says Atkinson.

Unless you're planning to become a wine connoisseur and build an elaborate storage facility in your house, these basics will help you make your bottle of opened vino last a bit longer, Atkinson says.

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